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Author Topic: This Day in History  (Read 193204 times)

besilarius

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Reply #1080 on: February 01, 2024, 01:53:03 PM
390 BC When he was just 16, Marcus Manlius had already slain two enemies in single combat, and in the course of his military career would gain thirteen Civic Crowns for saving the life of a citizen in battle, as well as thirty other decorations and many other honors, including the cognomen Capitolinus, for holding the Capitoline Hill against the invading Gauls in 390 B.C., a deed for which he was also awarded the very first Mural Crown, though this did not prevent the Senate from executing him for trying to organize debt relief for plebs.

213 BC, during the Hannibalic War, the consul Quintus Fulvius Flaccus had made a surprise forced march to the Roman colony at Beneventum, tipped off to the presence nearby of a substantial Carthaginian force under a general named Hanno. Anxious to get at the enemy before they realized their danger, Fulvius devised an ill-conceived plan to undertake a surprise dawn attack.

What happened next is recounted by Titus Livius, in Book 25 of his Roman History:
Leaving their kit and all their baggage in Beneventum, they started at the fourth watch [0300] and reached the enemy camp just before dawn.
The Romans’ appearance created such alarm that, had the camp been on level ground, it could undoubtedly have been carried at the first assault.  Its elevated position and its entrenchments saved it; in no direction could it be approached except by steep and difficult climbing.  When day broke a hot fight commenced. The Carthaginians did not confine themselves to defending their lines, but, being on more even ground themselves, they threw down the Romans who were struggling up the heights.
Courage and resolution, however, overcame all difficulties, and in some places the Romans had forced their way to the breastwork and ditch, but with heavy loss in killed and wounded, when Fulvius, calling round him the superior officers, told them that they must desist from the hazardous attempt.  He thought it would be wiser to march back to Beneventum for that day, and on the next day to bring their camp close up to the enemy's camp . . . .  To make more certain of this, Fulvius prepared to send for his Co-Consul, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, and his army and direct their joint operations against Hanno and the Campanians.
The "retire" was already being sounded when Fulvius' plans were shattered by the angry shouts of the soldiers who spurned such cowardly tactics.
The allied Paelignian Cohort happened to be in closest touch with the enemy, and their commanding officer, Vibius Accaus, snatched up a standard and flung it across the enemies' rampart, at the same time invoking a curse on himself and his cohort if the enemy got possession of the standard.  He was the first to dash over the ditch and rampart into the camp.  As the Paelignians were fighting inside the lines, Lucius Valerius Flaccus, the commanding officer of the Third Legion, began berating the Romans for their cowardice in letting the allies have the glory of capturing the camp, when Titus Pedanius, a centurion of the leading maniples took a standard out of the bearer's hands and shouted, “This standard and this centurion will be inside the rampart in a moment, let those follow who will prevent its capture by the enemy.”  His maniples followed Pedanius as he sprang across the ditch, then the whole of the legion pressed hard after.  By this time even Fulvius, seeing them climbing over the rampart, changed his mind, and instead of recalling the troops began to urge them on by pointing to the dangerous position of their gallant allies and their own fellow citizens.  Every man did his best to push on; over smooth and rough ground alike, amidst missiles showered upon them from all directions, against the desperate resistance of the enemy who thrust their persons and their weapons in the way, they advanced step by step and broke into the camp.  Many who were wounded, even those who were faint from loss of blood, struggled on that they might fall within the enemies' camp.
In this way the enemy camp was taken, and taken too as quickly as though it lay on level ground, entirely unfortified.  It was no longer a fight but a massacre, for they were all crowded together inside the lines.  Over l0,000 of the enemy were killed and over 7000 made prisoners.
This rather stiring episode not only demonstrates the initiative and courage of the troops, but it is also the occasion on which the word “cohort” first appears in literature, with the specific mention of the Paelignians, and implied in the description of Pedanius as a centurion commanding several maniples.

1743   Wounded during the Battle of Dettingen, at which his father, King George II, routed the French, the Duke of Cumberland refused treatment for his wounds because the Count of Fenelon, who had been captured, was “more dangerously hurt than I am, and stands more in need of assistance.” 

1800. USS Constellation engages French frigate La Vengeance in a 5-hour battle during the Quasi War.

1811 For many years the 2nd (The Queen's Royal) Regiment of Foot was nicknamed the “Sleepy Queen’s Royal Regiment.”
This curious nickname came about as a result of the escape of the French garrison from Almeida, Spain, on the night of May 10-11, 1811.
Despite allowing the French to escape, the men of the Queen’s Regiment, as well as those of the 4th and 36th Foot (all of whom had been tasked with keeping the enemy bottled up) had laid on an impressive pursuit, even abandoning much equipment in order to lighten their burdens. They actually managed to catch up with the French, albeit just as the latter were crossing the River Puerco into the safety of Marshal Massena’s army.
News of this untoward development was brought to Lt. Gen. Thomas Picton by an Irish officer.  Picton, who had a fiery temper, bellowed, “What the devil were the 2nd doing?”
“Faith,” replied the Irishman, “I suppose they were asleep.”
“Asleep!  What, then, was the 36th about?”
“Devil a one can tell, but maybe they were watching the 2nd, for fear somebody would waken them.”

1814  Following Napoleon’s abdication, the Royal Navy discovered that it had to find work for 60 admirals, 850 captains, and 4,000 lieutenants, in fleet reduced to perhaps 10-percent of the size it had been a few months earlier.

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


besilarius

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Reply #1081 on: February 02, 2024, 06:06:07 PM
1754  Born Charles de Talleyrand, French minister and diplomat, "a silk stocking full of shit", d. 1838

1777  Very early in the Revolutionary War, Congress resolved to recruit a regiment of riflemen from the rugged frontier folk of Virginia and Pennsylvania. An enormous number of men came forward to offer their services. Too many, in fact.
When the officers appointed to organize the two companies allocated to Virginia arrived at the appointed rendezvous, they found 500 men ready to serve, far more than the approximately 200 required. Now the volunteers were all good men. And a mite touchy lest some preference be shown to another. So merely picking 200 men out of the mass of volunteers would not do.
To resolve the dilemma, one of the recruiting officers devised a simple test.
Taking a board one foot square, he chalked upon it the profile of a face. He then nailed the board to a tree and paced off 150 yards, where he drew a line in dirt. Each volunteer was asked to put a round in the target, as close to the nose as he could.
The first 50 men to step forward obliterated the nose, requiring a replacement. In this way the Virginia companies were filled with little difficulty and, under Daniel Morgan, later one of the most successful American commanders of the war, almost immediately set out to join George Washington’s army in front of Boston.

1780. During the War of the American Revolution, the annual death rate from disease among British troops was about 1-percent for men in England, 6-percent for those in New York, 11-percent for those aboard transports bound for the West Indies, and 16-percent for those actually stationed in the West Indies.

1794  Because he bore a rather archaic Scottish name, U.S. Army Capt. Robert MisCampbell, who was killed at the head of a squadron of dragoons during the Battle of Fallen Timbers, has sometimes been reported as having been a woman serving disguised as a man.

1800. USS Constellation, (38) Cptn. Thomas Truxtun, defeats la Vengeance (54), Cptn. Pitot

1926  Died, Gen. Vladimir Sukhomlinov, 77, Russian War Minister (1909-1915), who did his best, which wasn't good enough, but had a splendid uniform

1933. Chancellor two days, Adolf Hitler dissolves the Reichsstag

1939, learning that a midshipman’s cruise planned for his ship was to include training in the use of the .50-caliber anti-aircraft machinegun, the skipper of the USS Arkansas (BB-33) wrote to the Navy Department, to note that he would be happy to comply, but “ . . . it is felt that .50-caliber anti-aircraft machine guns should be installed.”

1941  . Lend Lease shipments to the Soviet Union during 1941 included 20,000 surgical saws and 15,000 amputation knives.

1943  the last elements of the German Sixth Army, surrounded at Stalingrad for over ten weeks, surrendered to the Red Army

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


besilarius

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Reply #1082 on: February 04, 2024, 12:37:11 PM
1479 Venice and Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II (r. 1451-1481) agreed to end a long war over control of various territories in Greece and the Aegean.  Rather than "peace," what followed was a "cold war" between the Serenissima and the wily Ottoman emperor, who not only wanted to acquire Venice's eastern territories, but was widely known to be interested in some Italian real estate as well.  So when Mehmet expressed a very un-Islamic interest in having his portrait painted by one of Italy's revolutionary new painters, the Venetians readily agreed.  In a move that would foreshadow the "confidence building measures" and "cultural exchanges" of the twentieth century's Cold War, the Venetians dispatched the artist Gentile Bellini (c. 1429-1507) to Constantinople, who would not only paint the Grand Turk's portrait, but also serve as a sort-of "cultural ambassador," and a spy as well.
Now Bellini's arrival in Constantinople in late 1479 greatly pleased Mehmet.  So naturally, Bellini prospered at the Sultan's court, securing numerous commissions.  The portrait of Mehmet, then about 48, that now hangs in the National Gallery in London is believed to be one of these.
Among the other the works that Bellini painted while in Constantinople was one that depicted John the Baptist, after his beheading.
Now Bellini had probably never seen an actual beheading, and apparently got it wrong.  In contrast, the Sultan was an old hand at the practice, having had occasion to indulge in it on an industrial scale.  Indeed, on August 14th of 1480, while Bellini was still at his court, Mehmet had beheaded hundreds, perhaps thousands, of residents of Otranto, on the heel of Italy, which he had just captured, for refusing to convert to Islam; he did spare the bishop this penalty, preferring to have the old guy sawn in half instead.  So in the interests of artistic realism, Mehmet pointed out that the depiction of the Baptist's injuries was incorrect.
Bellini asked what was wrong.
Rather than explain Bellini's error, Mehmet called over one of his body guards and a slave, and had the former demonstrate the process and its results on the latter.
It's not known how carefully Bellini studied the results of Mehmet’s little demonstration.  Nevertheless, despite the fact that he was making rather good money in Constantinople, by the end of the year Bellini had departed for home, surely happy that the Grand Turk had not chosen to demonstrate the consequences of decapitation on his person. .

1810 Robert Corbet was one of the hundreds of men who captained ships in the Royal Navy during the long wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon (1793-1815). Like most, his service was characterized by long years on patrol punctuated by occasional bloody sea fights. In Corbet’s case, his career ended on September 12, 1810, when he was mortally wounded. Corbet was in command of HMS Africaine, a 44 gun frigate, one of a small British squadron that engaged several French frigates off Mauritius. Of course, death in action was hardly a unique distinction, for it was shared by thousands of others during the wars. What made Corbet an officer of note was his brutal command style.
Corbet liked to flog his men. No one knows how many he flogged, but in just 211 days from August of 1806 to March of 1807, whilst he commanded the frigate Seahorse (38 guns), in the Caribbean, he ordered 134 floggings, an average of three floggings every two days. The total number of lashes inflicted was 2,278, making for an average of 17 licks per flogging. Corbet was so brutal, his men petitioned the Royal Navy for redress, some mutinied, and once, when he was assigned a new ship, the crew refused to muster to hear his orders, until coerced by the proximity of another vessel cleared for action. Although subject to a court martial, Corbet managed to beat the rap. Nevertheless, he also managed to annoy senior officers, who would probably have found a pretext to remove him had he not been killed in action.
Of course, there were also those who said that Cobert’s wounds were not caused by the French . . . but he was smushed by a cannon ball, which suggests otherwise.

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


besilarius

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Reply #1083 on: February 04, 2024, 08:47:26 PM
350 BC  The torsion catapult uses the energy stored in tightly twisted ropes to provide the impetus for hurling projectiles great distances. Torsion catapults came in a great variety of sizes. Some were essentially large cross bows, firing oversized arrows; there was even an “automatic” version, with arrows dropping from a hopper while a handle was cranked, to return torsion to the ropes. Others were much larger, able to hurl huge stones or jars that might be filled with incendiaries or even snakes. Known from about 350 B.C., their use became widespread during the early Hellenistic period, in the wars of Alexander the Great’s “Successors” (332 B.C.-301 B.C.). Thereafter torsion catapults were a common feature of warfare in the Mediterranean region.
For example, during the siege of Rhodes in 305 B.C. by Demetrious Poliorcetes, the Rhodians reputedly had hundreds of catapults, which they put to good use, beating off the attacker, despite the impressive arsenal of war engines that he brought along. More than a century and a half later, in 149 B.C., during the siege of Carthage by Scipio Aemilianus, the defenders reportedly used some 2,000 torsion catapults, though they were unable to save the city.
Now the best torsion was provided by ropes made from human hair. So human hair quickly became what would, in the twentieth century, be known as a “strategic material.” The demand must have been was enormous, for we have some notion of the amounts needed. In 250 B.C. the Rhodians donated 300 talents of human hair, perhaps 75 tons, to the people of Sinope, to help them in a war against Mithridates I of Pontus, and a quarter century later King Seleucus II of Syria donated several tons of human hair to the Rhodians, apparently as a way of maintaining their friendship in the event he went to war with Ptolemaic Egypt.
Naturally, this hair had to come from somewhere. Apparently it was not uncommon for poor women in most Mediterranean lands to sell their hair, which would yield a tidy profit. So, at least among poor women, hair styles would have varied greatly, with some having lengthy tresses, ready for “harvest” and others short bobs, having just sold theirs, and many lengths in between.
Accounts of women sacrificing their hair to the war effort are commonplace in ancient literature. But these probably refer primarily to upper class women, who normally would not have sold their hair, not needing the money.

1779         John Paul Jones takes command of 'Bonhomme Richard'

1815. Shortly after the War of 1812, Congress having adjourned without appropriating funds to carry West Point through another year, Superintendent Joseph G. Swift saved the Military Academy from closing by personally borrowing $65,000 at 7-percent interest, for which he would later battle with Congress for several years before receiving full compensation.

1942. While the battle for Bataan rages throughout the night, USS Trout (SS-202) loads 20 tons of gold bars and 18 tons of silver coins as ballast to replace the weight of ammunition they had just delivered to US and Philippine forces in Manila.

1943 Franceska Mann (Manheimer-Rosenberg), Polish ballerina, murdered by the SS, but not before killing two of them and maiming a third

1970. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iLHFY2ONuEw&pp=ygUMcGF0dG9uIHRoZW1l

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


besilarius

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Reply #1084 on: February 05, 2024, 07:56:33 PM

1807         HMS 'Blenheim' (74) & HMS 'Java' (32) disappear in heavy weather off Madagascar

1900 campaign to capture the Touat Oasis in Morocco cost the French Army some 20 million francs, not to mention the cost of more than 35,000 camels that were requisitioned to transport supplies.

1914 One of the important aspects of almost everyone’s planning for the expected “great war” was the assumption that hostilities would commence in late summer or early fall, which not coincidentally was also the time most armies conducted their annual maneuvers.
There was one basic factor that made late summer or early fall the optimal time to hold maneuvers or go to war.
The Harvest: Although this is pretty simplified, the two principal food crops in Europe in 1914 were potatoes, particularly important across northern and eastern Europe, and wheat, more important in southern and western Europe, and the peak of the harvest season was more or less in July and August. During the harvest armies customarily furloughed men from active duty to lend a hand in the fields. In July of 1914, for example, seven of Austria-Hungary’s army corps were at reduced strength because many troops were on leave to help with the harvest. They were scheduled to return to duty between July 23rd and July 25th, which is why the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia was issued on the 25th. One of the first signs that Germany was preparing for war took place on July 30th, when men furloughed to help with the potato harvest were recalled. Once the harvest was complete it was also easier to call up reservists, since they wouldn’t be needed in the fields, and it was also easier to requisition horses for hauling artillery and supplies. So going to war just after harvest meant you could maximize the number of troops and horses you had in the field. Also, the fact that granaries and potato cellars were full all across Europe had a role in German war planning; once the troops on the far Right Wing entered hostile territory it might not be possible to supply them by rail due to combat damage or deliberate sabotage. The German Army did have unique railroad repair units to follow in the wake of the advancing troops, but their progress would depend on how much damage had been done.

1942         Adm Yamamoto holds a staff conference aboard BB 'Nagato', to plan "Second Phase" operations, which will lead to Coral Sea and Midwy.

1948         Generaloberst Johannes Albrecht Blaskowitz, 64, reportedly a suicide, but possibly murdered by the Nazi underground, while awaiting trial on war crimes charges

1958         A B-47 & F-86 collide at 36,000 feet off the Georgia coast, causing the loss of an H-Bomb, which is still missing

1985         Treaty of Tunis: The mayors of Rome, and Carthage sign a treaty of friendship to officially end the Third Punic War, 2,131 years after the fall of Carthage

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


besilarius

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Reply #1085 on: February 06, 2024, 10:39:34 AM
During the Fourteenth Century an area of approximately 1,050 square kilometers just south of the forest of Fontainebleau near Paris had twelve forts, 28 fortified churches, five towers, four fortified manor houses, and six full-fledged castles, for a total of 55 fortified places, or roughly one for every 19 square kilometers, so that few people were more than six kilometers from a place of refuge

1805  The only occasion on which the Navy was ever larger than the Army occured during the Barbary War, when it had 3,191 officers and enlisted men – not counting 578 Marines – to the Army’s 2,729.

1806. British aquadron of 7 ships of the line, two frigates and two brigs, under Vice Ad. Sir John Thomas Duckworth, defeated French squadron of five ships of the line, two frigates and a corvette, under Vice-Admiral Corentin Urbain Leissègues, off St. Domingo.

1922 Under the terms of the Washington (1922) and London (1930) naval arms limitation treaties – usually wrongly termed “disarmament” treaties – the major navies of the world engaged in a proportional reduction in the size of their fleets, and established a ratio of force that each was to maintain. The British and American navies were authorized a total of around one million tons of warships and auxiliaries, while the Japanese were limited to no more than 60 percent of that figure, and Italy and France to just 35 percent. The point of the treaty was to "balance" the naval forces of each power so that no one fleet could be decisively superior to any other, taking into account each nation's strategic interests and the distances to be traveled. To work, of course, the treaty essentially required that each country maintain its fleet at the appropriate level, so that the balance of sea power would remain the same.
From the signing of the Washington treaty in 1922 until the end of the advent of the Roosevelt administration, in early 1933, the signatory powers all added new vessels to their navies within the terms of the treaties. But some did it better than others.
Navy   Laid Down   Tonnage
France   200   ships   508,330   tons
Italy   147      298,971   
Japan   188      483,262   
U. S.   74      330,890   
U.K.           168      520,845   
While Britain strove to maintain it's tonnage limits, replacing older vessels as they became obsolete with newer ones, the U.S., which should have been adding tonnage in rough equivalence to the British, slipped badly. This was due partially to a belief that war was unlikely, but mostly because the fiscal conservatives from both parties who dominated government during the Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover administrations believed spending on defense would hamper the economy. Even when, in 1927 President Calvin Coolidge, arguing the necessity of maintaining the fleet at treaty levels, proposed building 71 new warships over the next nine years, to include five aircraft carriers and 25 cruisers, the proposal was cut by Congress to just one carrier and 15 cruisers, for which insufficient funds were provided so that only seven of the cruisers were in commission by the time Herbert Hoover left the White House in 1933.
Superficially, the hands down champions in building to their quota were the French, largely because the French Navy had been very obsolete going into World War I, by the time the treaties began to be signed in 1922 they had to replace most of their existing tonnage. But it was the Japanese who actually added the most to their navy, because the 483,262 tons indicated was actually an official figure. Japanese ships built during the treaty period regularly displaced more than their officially stated tonnage; heavy cruisers, for example, ran nearly 30-percent more. Since the Japanese were building above their tonnage limit, by 1932, the Imperial Navy was at ninety-five per cent of its allotted strength and much of its tonnage was new, whereas the U.S. had allowed much of its fleet to become over aged, and thus stood at just sixty-five per cent of its treaty-limit size. In short, rather than having 60-pecent of the tonnage of the U.S. Navy, the Imperial Navy was about 85-percent.
Naturally, in 1933 the advent of the Roosevelt Administration led to the use of Depression-relief funds to begin building the Navy up to treaty limits. Nevertheless, by 1936 the overall tonnage of the Imperial Navy still stood at 72-percent that of the U.S. Navy, 784,000 tons to 1,078,000.

1941  Battle of Beda Fomm: British complete destruction of Italian Tenth Army
      British troops capture Bengazi, Libya

1922  Born John Steed, Patrick Macnee, Eton droput, sometime LIeutenant, Coastal Forces, actor ("The Avengers"), d. 2015

1969. During six months of service off Vietnam, the battleship U.S.S. New Jersey expended 6,000 rounds of 16-inch ammunition, fully 80-percent of the total that the ship had fired during several years of operations in World War II and Korea.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2024, 10:45:44 AM by besilarius »

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


besilarius

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Reply #1086 on: February 07, 2024, 07:09:16 PM
1497  Bonfire of the Vanities: Florentine supporters of the radical religious regime of Girolamo Savonarola burn art, books, and other "frivolous" things.

1740. Adam Philippe, 53, le Comte de Custine, French general, guillotined 1793 for being unwilling to take the offensive with unprepared forces

1793. Cptn. Horatio Nelson joins HMS Agamemnon (64).

1864  Union Amphibious Attack on Jacksonville: RAdm John Dahlgren with five powerful warships covers the landing of Brig Genl Truman Seymour's 7,000 troops.

1933  The USS 'Ramapo' (AO-12) encounters a 112 foot "rogue wave" during a cyclonic storm in the Pacific, the tallest wave ever reliably measured

1943. USS Growler (SS 215) fights a desperate night battle with the Japanese supply ship Hayasaki, during which the boat's commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Howard W. Gilmore, rams the enemy ship, badly bending Growler's bow. Wounded by machine gun fire and unable to go below, Gilmore gives the order "Take her down!" sacrificing himself so his submarine could dive to safety. For his "distinguished gallantry and valor" on this occasion and earlier in the patrol, he is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor and promoted one rank.

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


besilarius

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Reply #1087 on: February 08, 2024, 03:32:23 PM
115 BC. When Quintus Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus (c. 210-c. 115 BC) was carried to his funeral, his bier was borne by a sitting praetor, and three former consuls, all of whom had, like him, celebrated triumphs, and one of whom was a former censor, all of whom were his sons.

1740 When in the field the Comte de Saxe (1696-1750) always traveled with a theatrical troupe – partially to enjoy the show and partially to enjoy the actresses – and it was usually at the conclusion of a performance that his subordinates learned whether a battle was imminent, for after curtain call, one of the starlets would appear to announce the name of the play for the following night, but would occasionally say, “Gentlemen, there will be no play tomorrow for the marshal gives battle” before explaining what was scheduled for the day after that.

1861 Stephen R. Mallory, Confederate secretary of the navy, had chaired the U. S. Senate’s naval affairs committee during the 1850s. Thus he was well qualified to plan a visionary maritime strategy that would couple modern technology, with cunning.
Mallory believed he had two duties: to protect the Southern coastlines and break the Union naval blockade. By adopting the most advanced architecture, his fewer ships might overpower the mostly wooden Union blockaders. Having long been an advocate of ironclads, Mallory pushed for their construction.
Working with former U.S. Navy officer James D. Bulloch (young Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.’s maternal uncle), Mallory proposed development of two ironclad rams that could operate both as defensive and offensive warships. Mallory looked to British shipyards that had the large-scale facilities to construct them and British seamen to sail the raiders. Bulloch was dispatched to in Liverpool in June 1861, to exploit loopholes in the Foreign Enlistment Act that barred neutral Britain from building belligerent warships.
The ironclad rams, however, presented a grave threat. If the rams could break the blockade, foreign recognition of the Confederacy might follow; failing that, they could attack New York City or Boston, and extort payments from the North. Further the Confederate cover-up of the ships’ ownership involved shadowy foreign figures, including the French Emperor, which made it more difficult to maintain peace with Britain.
The ironclads and the raiders were built supposedly as commercial vessels. The British Admiralty’s view was that it would take action against the vessels only if it could be proven that Confederate agents were the owners and were “fitting out, equipping, and arming” the ships for warlike operations. So, to remain legal, Bulloch connived to have the initial raiders leave port under various guises and sail into international waters to take on guns and ammunition.
The effects of the raiders, whether procured abroad or in the Confederacy was impressive. By January of 1863, the most famous of the raiders, Alabama, had captured or destroyed 10 merchantmen, after only about six months at sea. Despite the efforts of Alabama and other Confederate raiders, however, the Union blockade of the South tightened and no significant resources were diverted to deal with the marauders. So Confederate offensive hopes were still pinned heavily on the rams.
Bulloch had contracted with Laird & Sons shipyard to build several warships, among them the two ironclad rams. Under Lord John Laird’s leadership, the yard had pioneered the construction of iron ships and gunboats. Although only mid-sized ships―230 feet in length with 15-foot drafts―the vessels were state-of-the-art: steam powered with auxiliary sail; screw propellers; ironclad armor; below-the-waterline-rams, fore and aft. Yet their lethality stemmed, not from the rams, but from the two turrets in which rifled cannon would be ensconced, guns able to fire both solid shot and explosive shell to considerable ranges.
Bulloch, however, encountered financial, construction, and political problems, which caused delays that worried him. One cruiser fitting out, Georgia, was seized by the British, and Alabama very nearly met a similar fate, only escaping detention because Bulloch bribed a port official to look the other way. Worried the British government might confiscate the rams while still under construction, Bullock and the Confederacy’s agent in Paris John Slidell wove a silky scheme, involving an accommodating Emperor Louis Napoleon. In early 1863, Bulloch transferred the ownership of the rams to M. Bravay, owner of Bravay and Co., a French brokerage firm and an associate of Napoleon III’s lead shipwright. Bravay claimed, falsely, that he represented the Pasha of Egypt, who was the “straw owner.” Bulloch then managed the construction “from behind the desk” at Bravay’s firm.
Meanwhile, U. S. secret agents were trying to unearth proof of ownership, without which the British would have difficulty taking action. If the agents were mistaken and the Admiralty acted, the British government could face sizeable monetary damages if sued in court.
Yet the ironclads’ case differed from that of the raiders. Both Prime Minister Lord Palmerston and Foreign Secretary Lord John Russell finally perceived that ironclad vessels, featuring revolving turrets and rams provided prima facie evidence of military purpose.
By the summer of 1863, Charles Francis Adams, Jr., the American Minister to Great Britain, warned Russell that the “very existence” of the rams constituted a war threat. As Gustavus Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, stated, the U. S. Navy had “no defense against them,” neither monitors nor steam frigates. Moreover, if the British did not halt construction then, what was to prevent 20 more being built?
On September 3rd, after returning from a sojourn in Scotland, Minister Adams learned that one ram had recently completed sea trials and his diplomatic reserve broke. On September 5th he penned his sternest warning to the British government, asserting that Britain was waging war “by stealth and deception,” stating that if the rams escaped to bombard New York or Boston, the United States would retaliate, and ending “It would be superfluous in me to point out to your Lordship that this is war.”
Unbeknownst to Adams, however, in June Russell had begun an investigation of the ownership of the vessels to determine any Confederate connection. The British consul in Egypt met with the Pasha. He dispatched a telegram that was received in London on August 31, 1863, reporting that the Pasha’s ownership had been faked. However, the true owner’s identity, that is Bravay, was still murky and Russell’s legal officers, again, rejected action.
However, Palmerston and Russell agreed that the Confederate charade was dragging the government into “neutral hostility.” The international scene, too, had become complicated: the Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg seemed to turn the tide of war. Moreover, an insurrection in Poland against Russia had stirred domestic sympathies. And then there was Louis Napoleon, with his naval ambitions, imperialist meddling in Mexico and various parts of Europe. Supposedly Russell had been “staggered by confident assertions of French ownership” of the ironclads, which the Lairds had corroborated. This put the Palmerston government, as a whole, at political risk. As Adams wrote, “If it acted, the [British] government must do so on the grounds of prerogative, against public opinion, regardless of the advice of counsel and be prepared to be mulcted by a jury.” So on September 3, when Russell ordered Treasury officials to detain the ironclads, he acted courageously, albeit tardily, in accord with Britain’s “international obligations” to preserve the peace.
As a corollary, Palmerston suggested the Royal Navy buy the rams, as the service was short of ironclads. But when the British naval attaché in Paris met with Bravay, he rejected the offer.
After a few weeks during which time there were peaks and valleys in this Anglo-American dispute, Lord Russell decided that the Lairds could not be trusted. On October 8, he ordered the Royal Navy to seize the rams outright.
This diplomatic contretemps finally came to a whimpering halt in early 1864. Bulloch left for France in one final attempt to convince Napoleon III to prevent the rams from being sold to Britain. The Emperor refused. Thus on February 8, Bulloch sent a letter to Bravay, authorizing him to sell the rams as soon as possible. Several months and much discussion later, the British Admiralty purchased the vessels for £180,000, to the great relief of Charles Francis Adams and the Lincoln administration.

1937 Between 1930 and 1937 five men served as directors of the Soviet Naval Academy, each of whom ended his tour by being executed.

1914    Although all had varying proportions of artillery and cavalry, the armies that marched to war in the summer of 1914 were essentially infantry armies.  The basic form of battle envisioned by all participants was the open field clash of rifle-armed infantrymen, likely to culminate in close combat with cold steel.  There were small differences in the arms issued to the infantry in different countries, which by 1914 included not only the magazine rifle but also the machine gun.

Army   Piece                        Cal   Wt   Ln   Rng   RPM   Mag   Note
Infantry Rifles
Belg  Mauser F.N. 1889         7.65   4.0   1.3   2.0   10-15   5   A
Brit   Lee-Enfield No 1                 7.70   3.3   1.1   2.0   15-20   10   B
Fr   Lebel M 1886/93                8.00   4.2   1.3   2.0   8-10   8   C
Berthier Fusil 1907                  8.00   3.8   1.3   2.0   10-15   3   D
Ger   Mauser M 1898                  7.92   4.2   1.2   2.0   10-15   5   E
Mauser M 1888                          7.92    3.8   1.2   2.0   10-15   5   F
Machine Guns
Belg   Hotchkiss M 1914   8.00 52.6 1.3    2.0   450     24-30   G
Brit   Vickers M 1912                   7.70 40.9 1.1    1.0   450        200   H
Fr   Hotchkiss M 1914           8.00 52.6 1.3    2.0   450   24-30   G
Ger   MG08                                   7.92 63.7 1.1    2.0   450        200   I
Abbreviations:  Piece is the designation of the weapon; Cal, caliber in millimeters; Wt, weight in kilograms, without bayonet in the case of rifles, which could add up to .5 kg; Ln, length in meters, without bayonet, which could add an additional .5 m; Rng, maximum range in kilometers, but most armies set sights to c. 400 meters; RPM, for rifles this it the number of aimed shots per minute possible at 400 meters presuming a well-trained man, for machine guns this is cyclic rate, the theoretical maximum number of rounds per minute, with normal rate being about half that given; Mag, is number of rounds in the magazine.

Notes:

A. Belgian Mauser F.N. 1889: Five round external box magazine.

B.   British Lee-Enfield No 1: Ten round box magazine.

C.   French Lebel M 1886/93:   Eight round tubular magazine.  Many American accounts of the war insist that this rifle had a three round clip, probably mistaking it for the Berthier.

D. French Berthier Fusil 1907:  Three round box magazine; a five round version was introduced in1915.  Commonly issued to colonial troops and even the Foreign Legion.

E.   German Mauser M 1898: Five round integral box magazine.  This remained the standard Germany infantry rifle until well into World War II.

F.   German Mauser M 1888:  Five round clip  Carried by some Landwehr and Landsturm units, essentially third line reservists and militiamen.

G. Belgian and French Hotchkiss M 1914: Ammunition came in a round metal canister.  Weight given includes tripod (27.7 kg) and water (c. 3.5 kg).  One of the most reliable machine guns of the war, it soldiered on in many armies (e.g., Spain, Poland) into World War II.

H. British Vickers M 1912: Ammunition came in canvas belts.  Weight includes tripod (22.7 kg) and water (c. 3.5 kg).  A very effective piece, but required an unusually large crew, six men or more.

I.    German MG08: Ammunition supply by belts.  Weight includes tripod (34.1 kg) and water (c. 3.6 kg)  A Maxim system, sometimes known as the “Spandau Machinegun” because most were manufactured at the Spandau arsenal.

But almost as soon as the troops began to come into contact, it became clear that the prevailing view of combat was flawed, fatally for thousands and thousands of troops on all sides.  This was largely because all of the European armies had, to a greater or lesser extent, neglected the lessons of the experience of combat from the Crimean War (1853-1856)  through the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), roughly from the introduction of the rifled musket to that of the magazine rifle and the machine gun, not to mention numerous colonial conflicts, which demonstrated that the firepower of even small numbers of infantrymen or a handful of machine guns could inflict devastating slaughter on opposing troops in open country.  And none of the participants truly understood the overwhelming power of modern artillery.
So the war that came was not the war that was expected. 

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


besilarius

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Reply #1088 on: February 09, 2024, 06:04:26 PM
0 BC   Apollo & Artemis born to Zeus and Leto

A.D. 90, learning that Sallustius Lucullus, the governor of Roman Britain had allowed a new type of weapon to be named the “lucullan lance”, the Emperor Domitian (r. A.D. 81-96) promptly recalled the man and had him executed, for usurping the imperial authority over military matters.

1588. Death ofÁlvaro de Bazán, Marquis of Santa Cruz, Spanish admiral who never lost a battle (Relief of Malta, Lepanto, etc.), at 61, before he could command the Armada against England, from exhaustion through fitting out the massive enterprise.

1674         The English recapture NY from the Dutch

1826 John "Black Jack" Logan Major General, born.  A civil war politician who developed into a very accomplished military leader, commanding XV corps under Sherman.  Depending on which source you believe, his nickname came from his heavy, dark hair and looks or from his gambling and drinking.
When John Pershing came to the attention of newspaper reporters, his old army nickname "Nigger Jack" could not be printed.  This came from his long service with the Buffalo Soldiers, who were in all negro regiments.
Newspaper editors came up with Black Jack as a nickname they could print.  Pershing, who was proud of his service with the Buffalo soldiers loathed the new nickname.  It made him sound like "A drunken gambler."

1904         A predawn Japanese torpedo boat attack on the Russian Fleet outside Port Arthur, initiates the Russo-Japanese War

1919. Reportedly, British Admiral Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919), had such a passion for fox hunting that he had “a hunting scene tattooed across his buttocks - with the fox disappearing into the cleft."

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


Sir Slash

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Reply #1089 on: February 09, 2024, 10:31:39 PM
Where one would hope the fox would be completely safe from pursuit.  :whistle:

Any Day is a Good Day That Doesn't Involve Too Much Work or Too Little Gaming


besilarius

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Reply #1090 on: February 10, 2024, 06:17:08 PM
1258  Hulagu Khan's Mongols sack Baghdad and end the Abbasid Caliphate

1417  King Henry V of England ordered that six wing feathers be plucked from every goose in 20 counties and sent to the Tower of London, to be used to fletch arrows for the royal campaigns in France.

1567  Lord Darnley, Henry Stuart, 1st Duke of Albany, 21, strangled & then blown up along with his valet, possibly ordered of his wife, Mary Queen of Scots

1692  Edward Russell (1653-1727) joined the Royal Navy at a very young age and had a spectacular career, attaining a captaincy by the time he was 19. He saw active service in the Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672-1674) and on several lengthy expeditions (1676-1682), but in 1683 he fell out of favor with the Crown. In 1688 Russell played an important role in the “Glorious Revolution,” ousting James II and helping to install the latter’s daughter Mary Stuart and her husband William of Orange on the throne.
This earned him a promotion to Admiral of the Fleet and command of the Royal Navy during the Nine Years’ War (1688-1697).
In 1692, Russell was in command of the ships that were to oppose the fleet France was concentrating under the Count de Tourville for an invasion of England in order to restore James II. Now according to tradition, there was great sympathy in the Admiralty for James, who had been an excellent naval officer. And so, as Russell was preparing to put to sea with an Anglo-Dutch fleet numbering perhaps 120 vessels, including over 80 ships-of-the-line, he was handed sealed orders from the Admiralty with instructions to open them when he had reached a certain latitude. Russell, however, had apparently been informed of the contents of the orders, which instructed him to avoid action with the French. Moreover, he had actually been approached in secret with an offer of huge bribe if he avoided action or, if forced to fight, threw the match. So even as his fleet was about to sail, the good admiral made a secret journey from Portsmouth to London, and had a private audience with King William III.
Russell explained to the king the absurdity of these secret instructions (what, for example, was he to do if he encountered the French before opening the orders to avoid them?) Mentioning the offer of a bribe, he suggested that treachery was afoot. He concluded by asking the king to either issue fresh orders permitting him to take on the enemy, or accept his resignation. William told him to take the bribe, and then, with his own hand, wrote orders that Russell was to take, sink, burn, or otherwise destroy as many of the enemy as he should meet, and dated the document so that it superseded any orders issued by the Admiralty.
With his new orders in hand, Russell returned to Portsmouth, put to sea, and between May 29th and June 4th inflicted a stunning series of defeats on the French in raids on the ports of Barfleur, Cherbourg, and La Hogue, a feat, oddly, witnessed and greatly admired by the deposed James II.
Returning to England in triumph, Russell was summoned to the Admiralty to explain his actions.  With a flourish, he produced the orders written by Willia.

1954         Eisenhower warns against US intervention in Vietnam

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


besilarius

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Reply #1091 on: February 11, 2024, 01:14:27 PM
660   BC   Jimmu, descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu, became the first Emperor of Japan (660-585 BC) [Trad)

55    Britannicus, son of Claudius, poisoned by Nero, one day short of his 14th birthday

1744. British Fleet of 30 ships of the line, under Admiral Thomas Mathews, engaged Franco-Spanish fleet of 27 ships of the line, under Juan José Navarro, off Toulon.

1851. Hong Xiuquan, self-proclaimed "Younger Brother of Jesus Christ", initiates the Tai-Ping Rebellion in China, which lasts until 1864 and causes maybe 50 million deaths.

1926. Born  Leslie William Nielsen, RCAF veteran, actor ("Forbidden Planet" "Police Squad), d. 2010
1941. Erwin Rommel lands in Tripoli to assume command of the Afrika Korps

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


besilarius

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Reply #1092 on: February 12, 2024, 06:56:57 PM
1554         Lady Jane Grey, c. 16-17, Queen of England-for-a-Little While (c. July 10-19, 1553), and her husband Guilford Dudley, 18, executed for treason in the Tower by Queen Mary

1771.       King Adolf Frederick of Sweden (1751-1771), 50, having eaten 14 helpings of his favorite dessert, on top of a sumptuous meal

1804. Although British Admiral Graham Moore - brother of the famous Sir John Moore - captured an entire Spanish treasure fleet in September, he was not permitted a share in the booty, in as much as Britain and Spain were at the time not at war.

1836. Copenhagen, who had carried the Duke of Wellington for 16 hours at Waterloo, at about 30 .  The
most famous horses were the chargers which generals rode into battle. Actually, "charger" was a misnomer, since what a general needed was a steady, brave mount, that would do what he wanted, rather than a spirited war horse. Battle was tough on chargers. Marshal Ney lost seven during the campaign (two at Quatre Bras on June 16th and five at Waterloo on the 18th), and his experience was by no means a record. During the Waterloo Campaign, Wellington rode Copenhagen, a chestnut, 15 hands at the shoulder. Foaled in 1808, Copenhagen was about five when he was bought by Wellington during the Peninsular Campaign. Sure footed and calm, but with enough spirit when needed, Copenhagen bore Wellington through most of the famous battles in the latter part of the Peninsular Campaign, most notably at Vittoria, the Pyrenees, and Toulouse. Copenhagen died in 1836, at the relatively advanced age of 28. Napoleon, his health being poor, spent a great deal of the campaign in his traveling coach. However, when he did ride he seems to have preferred a mare named Desire. And as for Blucher, he was so drunk for most of the campaign he probably didn't know what horse he was riding anyway.

1862  US Grant begins the siege of Ft Donelson, which surrenders on the 16th after an unsuccessful break out attempt

1935. USS 'Macon' (ZRS-5) crashes into into the sea off Point Sur, Calif., after encountering a storm that tears off her upper fin, effectively ending the Navy's trouble-plagued rigid-airship program.

1955. Pres ident Eisenhower sent US advisors to South Vietnam

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.


Staggerwing

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Reply #1093 on: February 13, 2024, 10:22:44 AM
1935. USS 'Macon' (ZRS-5) crashes into into the sea off Point Sur, Calif., after encountering a storm that tears off her upper fin, effectively ending the Navy's trouble-plagued rigid-airship program.

[LTA fanboy rant]   The accident was a tipping point for the Navy's support of the rigid LTA 'Flying CV' program. It need not have happened as the tail fin was damaged in a prior incident and not fully repaired in time before that fateful flight.
Had things got differently and the Macon continued in service there *could* have been an even larger ZRS or two with longer-range modern parasite scout planes patrolling off of Oahu on a certain day during a certain December.
They and their scouts wouldn't have survived long yet could have provided hours of credible early warning of the kind admirals trusted more than a single 'newfangled unreliable' primitive radar installation.   [/LTA fanboy rant]

Vituð ér enn - eða hvat?  -Voluspa


besilarius

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Reply #1094 on: February 14, 2024, 05:30:05 PM
44 BC   the Roman Senate declared Caesar “Dictator-for-Life.”

1661. The troops of George Monk's Regiment of Foot lay their arms on the ground, and then resume them to swear allegiance to Charles II, who dubs them the Coldstream Guards

1779  Capt. James Cook, RN, 50, explorer, killed by Hawaiians at Kealakekua Bay..

1797  Adm. John Jervis’s British squadron defeated the Spanish in the Battle of Cape St. Vincent

1918. The Gregorian calendar, introduced in Catholic countries in 1582, and adopted in Protestant countries by the mid-1700s, goes into effect in Russia by decree of the Council of People's Commissars

"These things must be done delicately-- or you hurt the spell."  - The Wicked Witch of the West.
"We've got the torpedo damage temporarily shored up, the fires out and soon will have the ship back on an even keel. But I would suggest, sir, that if you have to take any more torpedoes, you take 'em on the starboard side."   Pops Healy, DCA USS Lexington.